Design solutions for bathrooms

Designers and architects share their insider knowledge to help you create your perfect bathroom space

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Element bathroom suite from Roca

Bathroom by Instil Design

‘Too much white can make a large bathroom feel cold and clinical,’

says Diane Martin, design consultant at Roca London Gallery. ‘In a large bathroom, good planning and thought as to what to include is just as important as in a smaller room. The space could feel overwhelming if the design doesn’t quite work, so think about the materials, textures and finishes you want to include. While bold, bright colours can hold well in a larger bathroom, too much or too many can still be overbearing. Try to use them as accents or to break up a run of space, maybe with a wall in a vibrant paint or wallpaper in contrast to muted tones elsewhere.

‘Whether you go for bold or pastel shades, the golden rule is to balance colour, especially in a large bathroom, which can feel stark with too much crisp white. Materials such as wood and marble can help, adding texture and depth as well as character. ‘Keep sanitaryware in proportion; if your bathroom is large, opt for one or two statement pieces to give the room a focus, such as a freestanding bath, a walk-in shower or a double basin, but always consider how the room will be used and what you want from the design before going ahead.’

Slimline bathroom furniture in scheme by Nicola Holden Interior Design

Creating a bathroom in a small area

‘Mirrors are key to making your room appear larger,’

says Ben Ridley, architect at Architecture for London. ‘Sometimes only one clear layout makes best use of a small bathroom space, but sanitaryware can have a big impact. For example, a compact wall-hung WC with a concealed cistern removes visual clutter and helps to ensure as much of the floor as possible is visible. Set mirrors flush with the tiling to create an illusion of depth, with others opposite for continuous reflected views. One of these could be a recessed hidden cupboard with a touch-latch mirror. Heated pads help keep mirrors clear of condensation.’

Small bathroom by Ben Ridley at Architecture for London

‘It’s important to reflect back as much light as possible into the room,’

says Shalini Misra, director of Shalini Misra Interior & Architectural Design. ‘High-gloss paints and finishes are useful reflective surfaces. Keep colours light and tonal to open up the space, and avoid fussy patterns, dark colours or big colour contrasts. A mirrored ceiling will create a sense of airiness and height. Keep furniture in scale and don’t be tempted to use oversized pieces. Mirrored, gloss or Perspex furniture will maximise the sense of space. Avoid clutter by having built-in storage and use a simple, unfussy window treatment.’

‘Always use every inch of the space available,’

says interior designer Nicola Holden. ‘Every bathroom needs a bath or shower and a basin and WC, and your layout will usually be governed by the position of your WC, which will need to be near the waste pipe exit in the bathroom. Think vertically and use all your wall space. Can you position your towel heater low down on the wall and install a large cabinet above it? Or position one higher up, above the foot of your bath? Underfloor heating may allow you to do away with it altogether. The key is to make a feature of the space to distract you from thinking about its size, maybe with a statement basin, taps or gorgeous tiles.’

Loft conversion to bathroom with fittings by Bathrooms com

Converting a room to gain a bathroom

‘Showers work well within a loft setting,’

says Ben Barnes, head of design services at Bathrooms.com. ‘Loft conversions often mean limited space and sloping ceilings – a challenging environment in which to create a bathroom. A lot of homeowners initially consider an iconic freestanding bath, but most lofts cannot accommodate one due to lack of space and the difficulties of transporting large, heavy items to the top of a house or flat. The simplest solution to such constraints is a contemporary shower enclosure – typically quadrant or pentagonal in shape.

‘The first step in converting a loft into a bathroom is to consider measurements of furniture before beginning structural work. An average freestanding shower enclosure is 1.85m tall, so it is important to fit changes around the size of your products. ‘Freestanding vanity units can be practical, offering storage but without excessive weight on a plasterboard partition wall.

‘The highest room in the house will often be the warmest. To save money, instead of underfloor heating or heated towel rails, go for an electric element towel rail that can be manually turned on and off as required.’

Bathroom in Edwardian home by Architect Your Home

‘It can be relatively straightforward to convert a bedroom,’

says Hugo Tugman, co-founder of Architect Your Home. ‘It can make for some really interesting and different design opportunities for a new bathroom. However, think carefully about reducing the number of bedrooms in a house. Generally, a four-bedroom house will be worth more than a house with three bedrooms. Most bedrooms can be converted into a new bathroom or en suite; don’t listen to builders who say that your bathroom must go in one or other particular corner of your house. When a builder says it “has to go there”, he generally means that is where it will be the least trouble for him to put it. There is always a way to achieve what will work best. Let the plumbing serve the bathroom, and not the other way around.’